Restaurant stocks can be very appealing to investors in search of an investment that lands a multibagger reward. The lure is the perception that if a company creates the right concept all it has to do is makes clones of itself everywhere and the cash will pour in the door. In the case of Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) it already has over 1,000 locations and the stock has already made multibagger moves, skyrocketing from its split-adjusted IPO price of $8.50 to around $133 now. However, it may still make yet another multibagger move from here.
The core concept
The Buffalo Wild Wings chain may still have a long way to go. While it's true that you can get Buffalo wings just about anywhere, places that specialize in wings, sports, and a full bar, while being clean (and not dive bars) are actually few and far between. For many sports enthusiasts, having a large variety of beer and wings to choose from is a must.
The industry for wings in general doesn't seem to be slowing down. For example, private company Wingstop claims to have 10 straight years of positive same-store sales, while last year systemwide sales jumped another 19.8%. Wingstop is starting to catch on that there is more to life than just wings and is expanding its so-far tiny sports bar version called Wingstop Sports.
Despite not having a lot of direct competition, Buffalo Wild Wings is working to stay ahead of the curve with initiatives such as tablets for fast ordering and guest captains to assist with tastings, channel selection, and improving the overall guest experience. A policy that allows you to watch any sporting event playing anywhere, no matter which Buffalo Wild Wings you walk into, is also helping the chain differentiate itself.
With Buffalo Wild Wings' IPO, its goal was 1,000 locations within 10 years and it hit the mark near perfectly. The company's next target, given in October 2012, was 1,700 locations in North America over the next five to seven years. It's got five years left for that timeline. As of August, Buffalo Wild Wings had 448 company-owned restaurants in North America and 576 franchised restaurants. Per the company's earnings report today, the company plans to open 50 company owned stores and expects franchisees to kick in for 40 more.
Buffalo Wild Wings is also currently testing a smaller footprint for smaller towns domestically. Not just that, but many restaurant chains are finding there is more opportunity outside of North America than inside. Let's face it -- beer, sports, and wings aren't just American.
The company's goal is to be a "globally connected brand" that is opening between seven and nine locations internationally this year and actively seeking franchise partners everywhere for the long run.
Wild cards for Wild Wings
Despite the name, Buffalo Wild Wings is also invested in some entirely different concepts that both have a chance of becoming huge hits on their own. It has invested in and opened its first PizzaRev restaurant, which is a fast-casual tiny pizza chain similar to Chipotle's Pizzeria Locale with the idea of a custom-made personal-size pizza cooked and ready in under five minutes.
Then in August the wing company announced a majority investment in Rusty Taco, a nine-unit, fast-casual, street-style taco chain. Buffalo Wild Wings Executive Vice President Kathy Benning stated with the Rusty Taco announcement, "As part of our long-term growth strategy, we are actively looking for additional concepts to invest in to build a portfolio of emerging brands, and continue to build a dynamic restaurant company."
Buffalo Wild Wings has an untapped $100 million line of credit for potential future acquisitions or investments. If PizzaRev or Rusty Taco ends up being even a relatively mild hit, they have the potential of adding materially to Buffalo Wild Wings' bottom line.
While history is no guarantee, Buffalo Wild Wings' growth as measured by revenue, same-store sales, and earnings have often been well above what you'd see from a typical public restaurant company. Low to mid single digit growth percentage on any of the three is many times considered excellent and the company has consistently blown that range away in two or all three of those metrics.
For instance, company owned same-store sales increased 6% for the third quarter. For the full years ending 2013 and 2012, total revenue was up 22% and 33% respectively. Average weekly sales per restaurant have rocketed for the last five years and were up 7% in the third quarter.
With the potential to add more restaurants and further grow per-unit sales, and the chance to get another base hit with one of its smaller restaurant investments, the majority of the company's growth, especially in earnings, may be ahead of it rather than behind it. With a P/E in the 20s, the market isn't pricing in a possible in sales and earnings growth that, if achieved, would likely also lead to a multibagger in stock price. Yes, even from here.